Sophie’s little 2000 Toyota RAV4 motored along. She and I were ahead of schedule and nearly half way from Colorado to California to take her back to school. So, I guess you could say, we were in the middle of nowhere.
We had left the house early that morning with hopes of making the ten hour drive to St. George, UT before dinner. Along the way, I had noticed the gas gauge hadn’t changed very much. According to the needle, we still had over half a tank of gas. Nevertheless, I figured something must be wrong since it had been nearly 250 miles since we last filled up with gas.
We began to climb another peak. Before losing cell coverage, Sophie found the next gas station on her phone and we made plans to stop after getting over the upcoming mountain pass. Unfortunately, we entered yet another construction zone. And, can I just say, construction dominates the interstate system in America during the summer months.
The road narrowed to one lane as we began to ascend the pass. Cement barricades flanked our car leaving no shoulder as we drove along. Then, the low-fuel warning light began to flicker on and off. When I said something about it, Sophie explained that the low-fuel warning light worked both unpredictably and intermittently, so I wasn’t too concerned.
As we drew near to the summit, all of the sudden, the engine stopped.
I pushed the gas pedal and nothing happened. Squeezed between cement blocks, we had no where to go. With our hearts thumping, we both blurted out prayers for protection and rescue.
As the car slowed to a stop, I got as close as I could to the barricade on the right. We were stuck. Little space remained for vehicles to pass, though a few squeezed by us. But, there was not enough room for an approaching semi-truck. All traffic came to a halt. All we could do was call out to God for help. We had no phone service and miles of vehicles now snaked down the mountain behind us.
What is your first response when you get “stuck?” Do you worry, phone a friend, curse, pray?
God sent a family of Good Samaritans to our rescue. A traveling family from Kansas, headed to California for a surfing vacation, had carefully maneuvered past our RAV4 and stopped. Amazingly, he “just happened” to have a large chain in his truck. He and the semi-truck driver, who was stuck behind us, figured out how to attach the chain to our vehicle. Slowly, we were pulled to a break in the line of concrete blockades and stopped on the side, freeing the awaiting motorists to continue their summit climb.
Once the line of cars had dissipated, the sweet Kansas family offered to tow us several miles to the crest of the mountain pass where construction workers awaited to offer assistance. We were not certain, but thought perhaps we needed gas. The construction fellows opened the gas tank to release any vapor, closed it again, and the car started up. Thankfully they agreed to follow us for the next 11 miles to ensure safe passage to the next gas station. The RAV4 stopped one more time, and after the same procedure, coupled with fervent prayers, the car started up again. We eventually made it to the nearest Chevron.
God heard our prayers and ministered to us through Good Samaritans.
Ordinary people set aside their vacation plans and work schedules to use what they had to help two travelers and their car in distress. These kind people didn’t act as though we had inconvenienced them, or appear annoyed, but rather, they seemed eager to help and offer support. Their attitudes and generosity blessed us!
How do you respond when someone in need blocks your path? Do you stop? Is your schedule so full you don’t have time to offer aid? What’s your prevailing attitude when you need to help others? Let’s help those in need and not assume “someone else” will do it. That “someone else” may be you and me.
Ordinary people are God’s hands and feet.
God provided His protection and faithfulness in a tight, frightening situation. When we arrived at the gas pump, our hearts swelled with gratitude and praise to God for miraculously transporting us on an empty gas tank for 11 miles.
How full is your “heart” gas tank? Do you consistently fill your tank with time with Jesus? Are you running on fumes?
After recounting this story with family and friends, we surmised that with the hills and valleys, the gas consumption in the RAV4 varied from traditional freeway driving. Our little car worked harder going up and down the mountains so likely, used more gas.
What are ways you fortify yourself through life’s ups and downs? What do you fill your “heart tank” with to be sure you don’t stall? Some ways to keep your tank full might include reading through the Bible, memorizing special verses, singing songs to God, praying purposefully and spontaneously, taking a walk with Jesus, and enjoying community with fellow followers of Christ.
Do you know someone running on fumes; they are just about “out of gas?” Perhaps they have already slowed to a stop? What ways can you give them a “tow?”
Practice following the example of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37 who set aside his agenda to care for someone in need. Share a meal, care for their kids, give a financial gift, extend hospitality, stop and pray with them, offer a meaningful Bible verse, drop off flowers or an encouraging note. Be available to let God’s grace and mercy flow through you to serve others.
Stop regularly to allow God to fill your heart tank so you don’t run out of gas. He is faithful and trustworthy.
If you see someone who has run out of gas, literally or figuratively, lend a supportive hand and point them to the premium fuel of Jesus for the road of life.
Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.
On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Check out these suggested readings.
Mike Mason.Practice the Presence of People. Colorado Springs, CO, 1999.
C.S. Lewis. Mere Christianity. New York, NY, 2015.